Callington School of Art

Tessa’s Gallery

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‘My Book of Time’   2018 ‘Turner Letters’ Series

My Work – 2017/8

It was at the end of 2017 that I started to research Turner’s handwriting. Samples of his handwriting on the internet available in high resolution were few and far between. By researching I found ‘The Collected Correspondence of JMW Turner’ which gave me the provenance of all his known letters. After contacting all the large archives in London I set about trying to wade through the copyright use and commercial licences attached to the use of the letters. I appreciate that the archive libraries of The British Library, The Royal Academy, The Tate and The Sir John Soane’s and Ashmolean Museums eventually waivered the use of these licences for me. Both the Royal Academy and Sir John Soane’s Museum allowed me to handle and photograph the letters including some not in my book of Turner’s letters. I chose the letters to use not only for the quality of the handwriting but for the stories they tell. It’s through reading these very personal letters that we get a real idea of how Turner lived and worked. Although he was much respected by some, others cruelly criticised him and his unusual but purely inventive ways of working.

sandycombe painting

‘Genius will always find its own path’   2018 ‘Turners Letters’ Series



My A4 concertina workbook on ‘Turner Letters’ series 2018



My work – 2016/7

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After our trip to Japan at the end of 2017 I can’t wait to use the various Japanese papers I acquired. The papers are all hand made with extraordinary textures woven into them. I’m also keen to develop my 2017 works that are transparent and continue working with cyanotype prints on material. Lots of ideas to play with!

In 2016/7 I experimented using Turner’s handwriting. These works were a follow up to using the writings of contemporaries of Turner, describing his working practice when he travelled in this area of Cornwall.

I used his handwritten letters and notes from his sketchbooks including pages of Turner’s poetry, some descriptions of places he visited as well as extracts where he has described the effects of lighting and use of abstract imagery.

My preliminary sketches were digital to see how the handwriting worked with the maps of this area. I’ve also enlarged sections of his writings and transferred them onto silk screens for printing into both small and large canvases. Some are just textures of overlaying layers of different writings. Others are printed onto pages of 19th century poets and writers, while others are on music scores and maps of where he lived and worked in London.

Some of my colours come from the actual faded colours of the sketchbook pages. In order to see the different layers of text I’ve sometimes made each one a different colour, often using gold, silver or copper colours so that when the painting is viewed from different angles the light catches the different layers of text.

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turner letter 17 72 2

‘Letters from Turner’ (collage with digital print)

hameg 17 72 2

‘Honouring a Most Extraordinary Genius’  2016 (acrylic, collage and silk screen print on canvas)

t study 3 72

‘Study for Turner in the Tamar Valley’ (digital layered print on acetate and paper)

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‘Homage to Handwriting’ (acrylic with layered silk screen print on canvas)

t study1 72 2

‘Letters from Turner’ digital layered print with London location

t notes2

‘Notes from Turner’ 4 (acrylic and silk screen layered on canvas)

hameg s 72 2

‘Copper, Silver, Lead and Tin’ 2 (acrylic, collage and silk screen print on canvas)




Landscape Works – 2017

sea 17 72 2

‘Cliff View’ (acrylic and ink on paper)



rocks 17 72 2

‘Pink Rocks – detail’ (acrylic on paper)



trebarwith rocks 72 2

‘Trebarwith Coastline’ (acrylic on canvas)

Text Paintings 2015

The following paintings are a result of the 2014 storms.

They contain different elements of sea charts of the south coast of cornwall together with the full shipping forecast for 12 February 2014.

Both elements are silk screen printed into the painting.

The following four paintings are 50cm square.

They were exhibited at ‘Terre Verte’ gallery.

Becoming very roughs

‘Becoming very rough’

'Increasingly severe gale 9'

‘Increasingly severe gale 9’

'Storm 10 to hurricane force 12'

‘Storm 10 to hurricane force 12’

'There are warnings of gales'

‘There are warnings of gales’

Text Paintings 2014

This set of paintings were completed in 2014 and were done in preparation for the later larger paintings. These are 30cm square. They were exhibited at ‘Terre Verte’ gallery.

plymouth south veering southwest

‘Plymouth south veering southwest’

'Southwest severe gale 9'

‘Southwest severe gale 9’

Rough at first in south'

‘Rough at first in south’

Wednesday 12 February 2014'

‘Wednesday 12 February 2014’

Text Paintings 2013

These paintings were the first small set using the 2011 shipping forecast with elements from sea charts.

They were exhibited at The Barrow Centre, Mt. Edgcumbe in the ‘Past, Present and Future’ exhibition in the future work section.

'Mounts Bay'

‘Mounts Bay’

Text Paintings 2012

I first worked with shipping charts, here with Spike Island.

'Spike Island'
‘Spike Island’

Text Paintings 2011

I worked on the first series of Shipping Forecast pieces. They are painted and silk screen printed onto canvas and sometimes on to glass. They were created for the DTTV exhibition at Royal William Yard, Plymouth, next door to The British Art Show 2011.

Shipping Forecast 3

The works are inspired by the rhythm and beauty of the words, the general synopsis of sea area forecasts and coastal stations. The words are unique and so distinctive. Someone, somewhere in the world depends on them. In the choral work of Cecilia McDowall they sound like poetry, in a written form they can be seen more carefully with patterns evolving in them. Spoken or sung they have their own rhythm, written they are visual poetry. In the paintings they are words not to be read in the conventional way but words to draw you into the picture, layers of textures fading in and out of the painted surface. They read like snippets of conversation. The ideas came to me after looking at a series of videos by Sam Taylor Wood in which the viewer can’t quite make out the conversations in a room but occasionally hear odd words every now and again.

Text Works with Mixed Media

This work is based on the poem ‘Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea’ by Sylvia Plath. It is made up of a watercolour sketch done on a local beach with added pastel pencil and flotsam from the beach, interspersed with the text of the poem.

Watercolour/Pastel Paintings...

Reed Beds at Cotehele Quay

Wistmans Wood


Sand at Widemouth Bay








The reed beds at Cotehele Quay change colours with the seasons. It’s frequently used as one of our locations on our courses. 

Wistmans Wood is an ancient oak woodland on Dartmoor.

A good location for our artists who like a walk as well as painting.











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‘Stormy Waters’


‘Tree Bark’ Cotehele’


View across to St Pauls



‘Ebb and Flow’


'Ebb and Flow 3'

‘Ebb and Flow 3”

©Tessa Sulston 2019

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Tessa Sulston with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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